Any writer will tell you, writing “The End” is a really satisfying experience. Sure, there’s a lot of editing and rewriting that has to occur, but “The End” feels good. There’s a sense of accomplishment there. Writing a book is hard, and making it to the final words means you’ve done something pretty significant.
I kind of thought I’d be there by now.
My current project is The Armageddon Clock, the final book in the Wolf Dasher series. As I blogged back in January, I’m working from an eight-year-old manuscript that needs some surgery.
I didn’t realize then that the situation was even trickier. In addition to a lot of the prose needing improvement and the old show-versus-tell problem, many of the chapters are too long. The Dasher books are meant to read like an exciting espionage thriller. That means shorter chapters with cliffhanger endings.
I prefer my chapters to be around 3000 words at the longest, and somewhere between 1500 and 2500 words is ideal depending on what’s happening in the narrative.
But I am finding 4000- and 5000-word chapters. And this makes a problem for my writing process. I’ll map out a plan to get two chapters done that day (since I’m rewriting instead of writing). And then one of them will be 5000 words long. So I realize I’ve got to move some of it to a new chapter. Suddenly, my plan to make it through two chapters of the original manuscript results in only one, even though I churned out two chapters of finished product.
Furthermore, The Armageddon Clock was the first Wolf Dasher novel I wrote, but it will be the sixth and final book in the series. So I have to make a bunch of changes and add things that happened in the first five books.
So sometimes, I’ll have a 2500-word chapter, but I need to add a scene to bring the book into the established continuity. And by the time I’m done, that chapter is 4000 words long. So then I think some of this needs to be moved into its own chapter. Or maybe the new material needs to be on its own.
The original manuscript was 37 chapters long. The current one has 35 and the heroes haven’t found the villain’s lair yet.
I can see the ending, but it keeps moving farther away from me. I’d planned to release this book this month, but I haven’t finished writing it yet.
Authoring a novel is an adventure, and each adventure is different.
But this one feels like it’s taking forever. I want to get to the end. I want to move to the next phase — editing.
The book needs to stop moving the finish line on me.